In this guide we’ll look at the best portable travel telescopes for viewing galaxies.
We’ve compared image quality, portability & magnification and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What are the Best Portable Travel Telescopes?
More detailed Portable Travel Telescope reviews
I often pack my Gskyer Travel Telescope when I head out on hiking and car camping trips. Weighing 6 pounds, this telescope boasts a compact body and adjustable tripod.
It’s easy to set up and easy to use, so you won’t waste precious vacation time messing around with complicated moving parts.
Even with a portable travel telescope, you don’t want to purchase something too small. Aperture, a measurement of the telescope’s light-collecting region, is the main factor to consider here.
A too-small aperture won’t let in enough light, and images will be dim and unimpressive. So don’t fall for tiny toy telescopes that don’t deliver!
That’s why I recommend a minimum aperture of around 2.76” (70mm)—which is what you’ll find on the Gskyer. The 70mm aperture means that this scope, while compact, produces real results.
Its focal length is 400mm and the focal ratio is f/5.7. This is a fast-to-medium focal ratio that allows versatile performance.
How much magnification can you reasonably expect from this compact telescope? As a general rule of thumb, multiply each inch of aperture by 50 to calculate maximum magnification under ideal conditions (no light pollution). Multiply by 25 to calculate potential magnification under worse conditions (moderate to heavy light pollution).
A 2.76” aperture scope like this one will max out at around 138x magnification—and that’s under optimal circumstances with the proper lenses.
You change magnification by changing lenses. With the included eyepieces on this scope, you’ll be able to reach 120x magnification.
Bottom line: This is a user- and beginner-friendly telescope that strikes a balance between optical quality, portability, and price.
This Celestron model is another refractor telescope with a 2.76” (70mm) aperture, focal length of 400mm, and focal ratio of f/5.7.
I’ve focused on refractor telescopes here because I think they make sense for a travel scope. Refractors use lenses (instead of mirrors) to collect and focus light. These lenses are contained within sealed tubes, meaning that refractors tend to be more durable and resistant to the elements—no dirt or dust can get inside.
In addition, once a refractor telescope is properly aligned, it generally stays in alignment unless it experiences a strong bump or jolt. This is in contrast to reflector telescopes, whose mirrors must be regularly aligned (collimated).
When traveling, it’s nice to have a low-maintenance scope like a good refractor.
The Celestron Travel Scope is designed with user-friendliness in mind. Its streamlined set-up and operation allow you to spend less time frustrated and more time stargazing.
It comes with an erect image diagonal to produce right-side-up images; this is important if you want to observe wildlife and landscapes in addition to the night sky. An adjustable aluminum tripod is also included.
At 4.2 pounds, this telescope will provide hours of fun without weighing you down!
The Orion 10034 GoScope II also features a 2.76” (70mm) aperture, 400mm focal length, and f/5.7 focal ratio. So, its essential capabilities are in line with the Gskyer and Celestron.
This telescope comes with correct-image prism diagonal, so it can be used for both daytime terrestrial viewing and astronomical observation.
The adjustable aluminum tripod is short and compact version with a 43.5” maximum height—so taller astronomers will need to place it on top of a sturdy surface (like a table) for comfortable viewing. I do recommend upgrading the tripod as the included one is a bit wobbly for my taste.
At 3.5 pounds, this telescope can easily be packed along on any trip.
This compact scope by Meade Instruments combines a 3.15” (80mm) aperture with an extremely compact and portable design. It’s one of the more expensive options on my list—but not by much.
The focal length is 400mm and the focal ratio is f/5. This is a relatively “fast” telescope, so it is best-suited for wide field views of the sky.
An erect image diagonal is included, making this telescope capable of both terrestrial and astronomical observation. It also comes with an aluminum tripod.
My main recommendation for owners of this telescope is to upgrade to a sturdier tripod, and consider investing in some higher-quality eyepieces as well. The optical tube itself performs very well, but would benefit from better accessories.
Weighing a mere 2.8 pounds, this scope is one of the lightest high-quality travel scopes on the market.
I’ll round out my list with the Aomekie Refractor Telescope, another model with a 2.76” (70mm) aperture, 400mm focal length, and f/5.7 focal ratio.
This telescope comes with an erect image diagonal, a tripod that can be adjusted from 15” to 51”, and a phone adapter so you can view and share images on your phone.
A metal Moon filter is included with the Aomekie; this is an important accessory since the Moon is such a bright object. Without a filter, the Moon often appears washed out (like an overexposed photo) and can even hurt your eyes.
Many telescopes (including other models on this list) do not come with an included Moon filter; if you choose one of them, I highly recommend purchasing a filter in addition to the scope itself.
Overall, this is a solid telescope that would be a fantastic gift for any budding astronomers in your family. It’s a good first telescope for kids or beginners, and it’s small and compact enough to take on the road.
There’s something magical about travelling to the middle of nowhere to stargaze under truly dark skies. I love taking a telescope along with me when I’m road-tripping or camping—so, I’ve compiled a list of the five best travel telescopes here. These models all weigh well under 10 pounds and can fit inside a small backpack, while still providing great views of the stars.